Collection by Kelsey Keith

Japanese Soaking Tubs for Home

For centuries, the Japanese have enjoyed a relaxing ritual of steaming in neck-high water at the end of each day. Like other aspects of Japanese design, this simple yet harmonious custom has become popular the world over, as extra-deep soaking tubs are incorporated into modern bathrooms and backyards. Here's how it's done.

The bathroom includes a walk-in tub.
The bathroom includes a walk-in tub.
This family in Switzerland asked for a removable seat when they ordered an extra thick tub from Bartok Design, owned by an Italian architect who uses cedar from the Kiso valley, one of the few sources of Hinoki. Soaking tubs are usually smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest, says owner Iacopo Torrini, but since most tubs are made to order, customers outside Japan often specify longer tubs to stretch out. Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design
This family in Switzerland asked for a removable seat when they ordered an extra thick tub from Bartok Design, owned by an Italian architect who uses cedar from the Kiso valley, one of the few sources of Hinoki. Soaking tubs are usually smaller than conventional tubs as the bather sits with knees to chest, says owner Iacopo Torrini, but since most tubs are made to order, customers outside Japan often specify longer tubs to stretch out. Photo courtesy of: Bartok Design
Tubs can be partly sunk for easier access, as in this tub from Zen BathWorks. The river rocks at the base hide a linear drain, but tubs can also have a regular overflow or drain onto a wet-proofed bathroom floor, says Bill Finlay, of Zen BathWorks. Jennifer Aniston bought a Port Orford Cedar tub from him when she turned the “his” part of the bathroom she shared with Brad Pitt into a spa after the couple split up. Bill says many customers site their tub, known as an ofuro in Japanese, to enjoy a view.  Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
Tubs can be partly sunk for easier access, as in this tub from Zen BathWorks. The river rocks at the base hide a linear drain, but tubs can also have a regular overflow or drain onto a wet-proofed bathroom floor, says Bill Finlay, of Zen BathWorks. Jennifer Aniston bought a Port Orford Cedar tub from him when she turned the “his” part of the bathroom she shared with Brad Pitt into a spa after the couple split up. Bill says many customers site their tub, known as an ofuro in Japanese, to enjoy a view. Photo courtesy of: Zen BathWorks
The Japanese-style bathroom, which is clad in teak, features a matching tub and sink by Bath in Wood.
The Japanese-style bathroom, which is clad in teak, features a matching tub and sink by Bath in Wood.
Close to Lake Tahoe, Roberts Hot Tubs built this teak tub to take advantage of stunning views, positioning it next to a two-sided fireplace. The drain is hidden under river rocks. Teak is a good choice for an outdoor tub as it withstands the elements.  Roberts Hot Tubs prices ofuros from $5895, says Andrew Harris, and they take 60-90 days to build – they can even include jets. Other manufacturers have similar prices and lead times for a made-to-measure tub. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
Close to Lake Tahoe, Roberts Hot Tubs built this teak tub to take advantage of stunning views, positioning it next to a two-sided fireplace. The drain is hidden under river rocks. Teak is a good choice for an outdoor tub as it withstands the elements. Roberts Hot Tubs prices ofuros from $5895, says Andrew Harris, and they take 60-90 days to build – they can even include jets. Other manufacturers have similar prices and lead times for a made-to-measure tub. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
A soaking tub satisfies both “bath people” and “shower people” as bathers wash outside the tub, then soak in clean, deep hot water. The owner of this penthouse asked Roberts Hot Tubs for a teak tub next to his shower. Soaking tubs can have straight or sloping sides and can be any shape. They use more water than regular tubs, but since bathers soak when clean, it’s common to add a re-circulating heater and filter. Tub makers offer wooden lids to keep the water hot - in Japan the same water is typically used by the whole family. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
A soaking tub satisfies both “bath people” and “shower people” as bathers wash outside the tub, then soak in clean, deep hot water. The owner of this penthouse asked Roberts Hot Tubs for a teak tub next to his shower. Soaking tubs can have straight or sloping sides and can be any shape. They use more water than regular tubs, but since bathers soak when clean, it’s common to add a re-circulating heater and filter. Tub makers offer wooden lids to keep the water hot - in Japan the same water is typically used by the whole family. Photo courtesy of: Roberts Hot Tubs
The Lais designed their house to be theirs forever. As such, they were able to make design moves that made sense for themselves but that wouldn't have high resale value, like the Japanese-style master bathroom in the middle of the second floor instead of off of the master bedroom. The traditional setup features bath stools from Muji for washing off.
The Lais designed their house to be theirs forever. As such, they were able to make design moves that made sense for themselves but that wouldn't have high resale value, like the Japanese-style master bathroom in the middle of the second floor instead of off of the master bedroom. The traditional setup features bath stools from Muji for washing off.
The master bath features a freestanding bathtub and elegantly curved spout.
The master bath features a freestanding bathtub and elegantly curved spout.
Houle designed the ofuro tub in the master bath to mesh with the home’s tallowwood wall paneling. The Ikea sink is outfitted with Vola faucets.
Houle designed the ofuro tub in the master bath to mesh with the home’s tallowwood wall paneling. The Ikea sink is outfitted with Vola faucets.
The lower terrace, which features a hot tub, is farther down the hill to immerse its users in the landscape.
The lower terrace, which features a hot tub, is farther down the hill to immerse its users in the landscape.
The main draw of Fukasawa's hut: a bathroom featuring a large, Japanese-style tub with a view.
The main draw of Fukasawa's hut: a bathroom featuring a large, Japanese-style tub with a view.
At the opposite end of the house, the soaking tub gets almost daily use. The bath and shower fixtures are by Dornbracht
At the opposite end of the house, the soaking tub gets almost daily use. The bath and shower fixtures are by Dornbracht
More than just a clever cover, the ipe wood shell of Mark Erman's spa, thanks to its 40-foot tracks, niftily navigates the rocky straights between spa shelter, dapper deck, and bespoke buffet table.
More than just a clever cover, the ipe wood shell of Mark Erman's spa, thanks to its 40-foot tracks, niftily navigates the rocky straights between spa shelter, dapper deck, and bespoke buffet table.
Japanese showers are usually set low down so the bather can sit on a stool and scrub, then pour cedar buckets of hot water over their heads for a refreshing rinse. This homeowner in Venice, California mounted a handheld shower head on the wall for added flexibility. The drain is under the removable cedar floor slats, keeping the room design uncluttered. Wood tubs are cleaned with a simple rinse and last for decades, as the antiseptic properties of cedar guard against mold and rot.

This ofuro was designed by Santiago Ortiz and fabricated by Bartok Design.
Japanese showers are usually set low down so the bather can sit on a stool and scrub, then pour cedar buckets of hot water over their heads for a refreshing rinse. This homeowner in Venice, California mounted a handheld shower head on the wall for added flexibility. The drain is under the removable cedar floor slats, keeping the room design uncluttered. Wood tubs are cleaned with a simple rinse and last for decades, as the antiseptic properties of cedar guard against mold and rot. This ofuro was designed by Santiago Ortiz and fabricated by Bartok Design.
The custom cedar tub, fabricated by Dovetail, elegantly fits into the master bathroom.
The custom cedar tub, fabricated by Dovetail, elegantly fits into the master bathroom.
Parallelogram-shaped stone slabs line the walkway to the hot tub.
Parallelogram-shaped stone slabs line the walkway to the hot tub.
Custom shoji-inspired screens of Roberts’s design conceal the closet and extend to provide privacy for the adjacent shower and soaking tub.
Custom shoji-inspired screens of Roberts’s design conceal the closet and extend to provide privacy for the adjacent shower and soaking tub.
Nighttime hikes often end at the the “cowboy” hot tub where Smith soaks his feet: two nested Hastings galvanized livestock feeders. The tub is surrounded by a Veranda faux-wood deck and fed with hot water from the house’s solar hot-water system.
Nighttime hikes often end at the the “cowboy” hot tub where Smith soaks his feet: two nested Hastings galvanized livestock feeders. The tub is surrounded by a Veranda faux-wood deck and fed with hot water from the house’s solar hot-water system.
The master bathroom departs from the cool tones used throughout the house in favor of warmer, neutral-toned marble tiling, which wraps around a large soaking tub.
The master bathroom departs from the cool tones used throughout the house in favor of warmer, neutral-toned marble tiling, which wraps around a large soaking tub.
Designing two narrow bathrooms–one with an encroaching concrete retaining wall—required major creativity. A wall-mounted Duravit Starck toilet was a big space saver, as was the four-foot-long Kohler soaking tub, a foot shorter than the standard size. 

duravit.com

kohler.com

ikea.com
Designing two narrow bathrooms–one with an encroaching concrete retaining wall—required major creativity. A wall-mounted Duravit Starck toilet was a big space saver, as was the four-foot-long Kohler soaking tub, a foot shorter than the standard size. duravit.com kohler.com ikea.com